In observance of National Engineers Week (February 17-23) the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is recognizing the 1,670 members of its engineer bargaining units for their dedication to their profession, their occupational contributions and their relationship with NATCA.
National Engineers Week is not only a way to honor the men and women that have contributed to our profession and society but is also designed to foster future public interest in the science, politics and education involved in our field, said Regional Vice President Mike MacDonald, who represents NATCAs non-controller bargaining units, called Region X by the union. I thank NATCA for recognizing our aviation contributions. Region X will continue to stand with our union in order to encourage safe and fair labor practices by the FAA. The engineers and architects unit is the largest Region X group with 1,350 employees. These professionals design, construct and remodel air traffic control facilities as well as evaluate and replace aging National Airspace System (NAS) equipment. The aircraft certification unit, with 300 members, ensures that aircraft are tested and safely designed in addition to investigating incidents and accidents in order to maintain the safety of certified aircraft. The airports program engineers, made up of approximately 70 employees, support the NAS system by providing functions such as issuance of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, oversight of engineering, construction and implementation of AIP and National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems Programs (NPIAS) and FAA standards. The AIP program includes a wide variety of airport projects such as construction and rehabilitation of runways, taxiways and improvement of Runway Safety Areas (RSA). In addition to the engineers that it represents, NATCA is the exclusive bargaining representative for over 14,000 air traffic controllers and trainees currently working under imposed work rules put into place by the FAA in September 2006. Like NATCAs controllers its engineers are also facing FAA-imposed hardship through the FAA Consolidation Engineering Services Efficiency Plan (ESEP), a plan that will affect approximately 450 NATCA engineers through management-directed reassignments and dismissal from federal service for those that are either unwilling or unable to relocate. In addition, NATCA has filed unfair labor practices against the FAA because the agency is forcing illegal requirements on aerospace engineers in order to meet economic goals. By law, an aerospace engineer is required to certify that aircraft are tested and designed to a safety standard before the public can use it. The FAA has chosen to abandon that practice and is now allowing the industry to self-approve its products. Despite FAA obstacles NATCAs engineers and architects are committed to safely ensuring the high-performance operation of the busiest and most complex aviation system in the world. NATCA President Patrick Forrey defines the important role that these engineers play in the airspace system, These engineers are an essential link in NATCAs membership chain, vital cogs in the aviation system and our brothers and sisters in our fight against the FAA. These aviation safety professionals have the respect and admiration of all NATCA members and we salute them this week for their dedication and the honor they bring to their profession and our union.